How to Store Paint
Keep it Safe from the Elements
This should be your highest priority when it comes to paint storage. Paint will last the longest if it is kept at room temperature. This means it might not be the best idea to keep leftover paint in your garage or shed. If it gets too hot, the paint will dry out quicker. However, if it gets too cold, the paint will separate and become unusable.
The best way to do this is to keep the paint in a temperature controlled room, such as a finished basement or closet. Try to keep it off of tile or concrete floor, as this can get too cold. It is best to store paint on carpet, up on a shelf, or in a plastic bin/cardboard box.
Make sure it’s Completely Sealed
Keeping a paint can sealed is another way to lengthen the life of your old paint. Most paint cans are made to create an airtight seal when properly closed. However, if you damage or warp the can in any way, this will be broken. Use a paint can opener instead of a screwdriver when initially opening your cans. This will not only make it easier to open, but ensure that you won’t damage the lid.
Also, clean out the groove where the can meets the lid before you close it back up. If there is access dry paint left in this groove, the can will not be able to close all the way. Using a paint can spout when pouring can help you avoid getting paint stuck there in the first place.
If you have any doubts about the quality of the airtight seal, place plastic wrap over the opening before putting the lid back on. This will help you seal it completely if the can is damaged in any way.
How to Know if your Paint has Gone Bad
Check the Smell
When opening an old can of paint, the first thing you check should be the smell. This will be the most obvious indicator that your paint has gone bad. If it has a foul or unusual smell, the paint is bad and should be properly disposed of. However, if it smells like regular paint, move on to the next steps.
What is the Consistency like?
It is very common for old paint to separate or develop a dry film overtop. This does not necessarily mean it is no longer usable.
If there is a dry film on top, simply scrape it off, and more often than not there will be completely good paint underneath.
If the paint has separated, try giving it a good mix. If you have been mixing for 5-7 minutes and the paint is still very separated, it is most likely bad. However, if the paint mixes together well and there are just a few dry clumps, you can use a paint strainer to remove these.
Do a Patch Test
The last step in making sure your paint is still good is to do a patch test. Paint a small section of drywall or cardboard. If it goes on evenly, you are good to go! However, if it is exceptionally patchy or rough and bumpy, your paint has gone bad.
How to Dispose of Old Paint
Donate the Paint
If your old paint is still usable, consider donating it to someone who will make good use of it. This can be a Neighbor, Charity, Community Theatre, or a Place of Worship. This will create less waste, and save you the steps of disposing of the paint.
Latex paint can be taken to a recycling center, or in some places, thrown out with your regular trash. However, before disposing of latex paint you must make sure the paint is completely dried out. You can do the can in a well ventilated area with the lid off, stirring occasionally to ensure that all of the paint is dry.
If you would like to speed up the process, you can use paint hardeners or cat litter.
Once the paint is dry, check with your local government to see if you can recycle the old cans in order to reduce landfill waste.
Unlike Latex Paint, Oil-Based paints are considered hazardous waste. They must be taken to a disposal center or paint drop-off location.
For Paint disposal in Indianapolis, check out these Hazardous Waste Drop-Off Sites
Never pour leftover liquid paint down a drain, in the trash, or into the ground. This is considered illegal and can result in serious consequences.